put/turn the clock back

turn the clock back

 and turn back the clock 
1. Lit. to set a clock to an earlier time. I have to turn the clocks back each fall. Please turn back the clock.
2. Fig. to try to return to the past. You are not facing up to the future. You are trying to turn the clock back to a time when you were more comfortable. Let us turn back the clock and pretend we are living at the turn of the centurythe time that our story takes place.
See also: back, clock, turn

turn the clock back


turn back the clock

COMMON If you would like to turn the clock back or to turn back the clock, you would like to return to an earlier period, usually because you would like the chance to change something that you did in the past. I'd like to turn the clock back and do things differently, but I can't. If I could turn back the clock, I might not have said that. Note: You can use the verb put instead of turn. No amount of money — not even millions like this — can put back the clock and change what happened.
See also: back, clock, turn

put/turn the ˈclock back

return to the past; return to old-fashioned ideas, customs, etc: Sometimes I wish I could turn the clock back to my days as a student.These new restrictions on medical research will undoubtedly put the clock back (by) 20 years.
See also: back, clock, put, turn